Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) poses with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Utah Jazz during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Timberwolves draft did not go to plan to say the least. Before the draft almost every mock draft on the Internet, had the Timberwolves drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the number nine pick. This draft was one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory and gave new General Manager Flip Saunders a challenge. The three prospects the Timberwolves were interested in the most were Victor Oladipo, Ben Mclemore, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Notice that all three of these players are shooting guards.
The Timberwolves had two main problems last season. Their biggest problem was shooting three pointers. They shot a little above 30% last season (bottom of the league), with their best shooter being Derrick Williams who shot 33% from behind the arc. Of course this should improve if Kevin Love and Chase Budinger are healthy next season. Their other main problem was at the two guard. Luke Ridnour started every game for the Timberwolves this season and started most of the games at shooting guard. This is a problem because Ridnour is a natural point guard and is 6’2 and weighs 175 pounds. That is way too small for that position and he struggled to guard the bigger, more intimidating guards. All three of those shooting guards were taken off the board before the Timberwolves’ pick so Flip Saunders had to go to Plan D.
Saunders then decided to grab the best player available in point guard Trey Burke and dangle him as trade bait. Every Timberwolves’ fan winced when Saunders picked a point guard because of all the point guards former General Manager David Kahn picked. Fortunately Saunders made a smart move and traded Trey Burke to the Utah Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks in the draft. With the 14th pick the Wolves selected Shabazz Muhammad out of UCLA. Muhammad is a risky pick as he has boom or bust potential. Muhammad was considered a top prospect coming out of High School but after an up and down season at UCLA his draft stock plummeted. Muhammad averaged 17.8 ppg, and 5.2 rpg. He also shot 37% from three at UCLA, which is one thing that the Timberwolves definitely need from him next season. There is no doubt Muhammed can score but he does have some other issues.
Muhammed has been described as selfish and his numbers back that up as he only averaged 0.8 assists per game last season for UCLA. Muhammad has also been described as lazy on defense and it showed when he started sagging off on bigger and faster forwards. Muhammed also has Turrets Syndrome, which prohibits him from taking his game to the next level. But If he can overcome these issues Muhammad is one of the few players in this year’s weak draft class that has All Star potential. With Andrei Kirilenko stating he will not pick up his player option for next season there is a hole at the small forward spot that Muhammad could possibly fill as soon as next season.
With the 21st pick Minnesota selected Gorgui Dieng out of Louisville. Dieng will be huge for the Timberwolves as he can be a defensive anchor and possibly their future starting center but for now he is someone who can come off the bench and immediately contribute. He is a terrific defender and showed in the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament in Louisville’s season that he is developing his mid range jump shot. Dieng is a terrific shot blocker and a defensive anchor. The Timberwolves sent the number 26 pick and Malcolm Lee to the Golden State Warriors for cash, which was a very smart decision on their part. The Timberwolves got rid of a scrub and instead managed to further their cause in a tough western conference by drafting an impact player.
They also shedded some salary. With 52nd pick the Timberwolves drafted Lorenzo Brown the point guard out of NC State. This is a steal this late in the draft. Brown needs to develop a three point shot but at 6’5 he will likely be playing some shooting guard for the Timberwolves. Brown is an exceptional passer and should be great player who compliments Ricky Rubio very well. Finally with the 58th pick the Timberwolves selected Bojan Dubljevic out of Montenegro. Dubljevic will likely stay in Europe for one or two seasons to hone his skills for the NBA but what we’ve already seen from him, is that he is a deadly shooter on his day and that he can really contribute to the Timberwolves’ cause in the near future. Overall the Timberwolves did well this draft, picking the right players to fill the right holes on the team, and if developed right these prospects could be solid players in the future and should even help contribute to the Timberwolves hunt for playoff basketball as soon as this season.